C-SPAN has sent a letter to Democratic leaders asking that the closed-door negotiations between the House and Senate on health care be televised. Congressional leadership is already going around the usual reconciliation process to avoid public scrutiny and this request is an important reminder of the need for transparency.
Democratic leaders have reportedly decided to skip formal conference and instead talk behind closed doors to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills.
C-SPAN, which would normally televise a conference committee, especially on such a hot topic, wants the negotiations to be public.
“Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American,” Brian Lamb, C-SPAN CEO, wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders.
Please call your Congressmen and ask that C-SPAN’s request be granted. It probably won’t be, but it’s a good reminder that we are watching and won’t have the wool pulled over our eyes.
And, as always, check out our Issue Developments page for updates on the health care front; you don’t want to miss out on special nuggets like the fact that Big Labor has carved out some very nice gifts for themselves in the Senate bill that really sticks it to independent contractors and small businesses.
Early versions of the Senate’s far-reaching health care bill said that small businesses with fewer than 50 workers would not be penalized if they failed to provide insurance. That was before labor unions in the construction industry went to work and persuaded Senate leaders to insert five paragraphs.
Their provision, added to the 2,074-page bill at the last minute, singles out the construction industry for special treatment, in a way that benefits union members and contractors who use union labor.
In this one industry, the exemption from the penalty would be much more limited, available only to employers with fewer than five employees. Construction companies with five or more workers would generally have to provide health insurance or pay a penalty — an excise tax of $750 per employee.